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Collaboration with Stakeholders Needed to Improve Working Conditions in Shenzhen’s Information and Communication Technology Industry

Submitted by: International Finance Corporation

Categories: Corporate Social Responsibility

Posted: Jul 12, 2007 – 03:48 PM EST

 

BEIJING- July 12, 2007 – A new report published today determines that collaboration between suppliers, international customers, local government, and NGOs is key to improving social and environmental conditions in the information and communication technology (ICT) industry in China.

The report results from a year-long collaboration between FIAS - the World Bank Group’s investment climate advisory service, Business for Social Responsibility (BSR), the Electronics Industry Code of Conduct (EICC), the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI), and Shenzhen Electronics Industries Association (SEIA).

"The highest social and environmental standards result from working closely with suppliers, partners, and other stakeholders throughout the supply chain," said Bonnie Nixon Gardiner, Global Program Manager at Hewlett Packard, which is a member of both GeSI and the EICC. She added, "Collaboration between the ICT industry and local stakeholders to build greater understanding and capability will help achieve long-term sustainable impact."

The report highlights that private sector monitoring of the supply chain is necessary, but rarely sufficient to solve social and environmental challenges in Chinese supply chains. In addition to monitoring, the ICT industry should collaborate with the government and civil society to put resources into capability building.

The recommendations in the report were discussed at a workshop in June 2007 in Shenzhen with Chinese government authorities, the labor union, international buyers, local suppliers, and civil society organizations.

The conference highlighted that capability building requires that local employers better understand the cost and benefits of corporate social responsibility. “Better labor practices can reduce turnover and increase productivity, but many suppliers do not keep track of these benefits and are therefore not convinced of the business case,” said Wei Dong Zhou from BSR China.

Another challenge is that small and midsize companies have fewer resources to invest in improving social and environmental practices. "An organization like the SEIA plays an important role in helping member companies prepare for the increased demand for social and environmental requirements," said Yanjun Xu from SEIA.

One of the outcomes of the conference was agreement on a six-month pilot project in Shenzhen. The pilot aims to improve worker engagement and integrate social and environmental standards into factory operations and associated management systems.

"Achieving sustainable labor and environmental practices in global supply chains requires an enabling environment that is supported by the government," said Annemarie Meisling, Private Sector Development Specialist at FIAS. "Hence we encourage the local government encouraged to participate in the pilot project through a public-private partnership to ensure a long-term sustainable solution."

The report is available at: www.fias.net, www.bsr.org, www.gesi.org, www.eicc.info

The partners in the project include:

  • FIAS is a multidonor service of IFC, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group; the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency; and the World Bank. FIAS advises governments of developing and transition countries on how to improve their investment climate for domestic and foreign investors, focusing on four main areas: investment climate diagnostics, investment laws and promotion, administrative barriers solutions, and industry competitiveness. Since 1985, FIAS has assisted over 130 countries in increasing the level and impact of private investments through more than 680 projects. For more information, visit www.fias.net.

  • Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) provides socially responsible business solutions to many of the world’s leading corporations. Headquartered in San Francisco and with offices in Europe and China, BSR is a nonprofit business association that serves its 250 member companies and other Global 1000 enterprises. Through advisory services, events, and research, BSR works with corporations and concerned stakeholders of all types to create a more just and sustainable global economy. For more information, visit www.bsr.org

  • Shenzhen Electronics Industries Association, is an industry association with a number of small and midsize member companies in the Shenzhen region.

  • The Electronics Industry Code of Conduct (EICC) group consists of 30 companies that have come together in their common interest to improve working conditions and environmental stewardship throughout the electronics supply chain. This group supports a common code of conduct for electronics companies, the EICC. The code covers expectations for performance across a range of issues including labor, health and safety, environmental practices, ethics, and management systems. Through its board, steering committee, and working groups, the group is working to implement the EICC, engaging with stakeholders, and keeping the code up-to-date. For more information please visit www.eicc.info.

  • The Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) is a joint initiative of an international group of ICT service providers and suppliers, industry associations, the Carbon Disclosure Project, and WWF, with the support of the United Nations Environment Programme and International Telecommunication Union. GeSI seeks to contribute to sustainable development in the ICT industry by taking a leadership role in collaborative exploration and responsible management of the evolving interfaces among industrial, ecological, and social systems. The EICC and GeSI are working together on development and deployment of a consistent set of tools and processes to measure, monitor, and improve supply chain corporate responsibility performance across the ICT sector. Information about GeSI members and ongoing activities can be found at www.gesi.org.

  • For more information, please contact:

    Lucie Giraud International Finance Corporation
    Phone: 12022940504
    Phone 2: 12024584662
    Website: www.ifc.org
    Helen Ni IFC Beijing
    Phone: 86 10 5860-3262
    Phone: 415-984-3217

    For more from this organization:

    International Finance Corporation

     

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